US President Donald Trump raised to the Iraqi prime minister the “unworkable” idea of repaying America for its war efforts with the country’s oil, sparking outrage within his administration, the Express said.
The US president brought up the thorny subject during a meeting in March 2017 with the then prime minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi. According to Mr Trump, Washington could have taken oil from Iraq as a reimbursement for the costs of the second war in the country, which saw Western troops fighting there between 2003 and 2011. Recalling the moment Mr Trump made the request, an anonymous source who was in the room as the conversation took place told US news corporation Axios: "It was a very run-of-the-mill, low-key, meeting in general.
"And then right at the end, Trump says something to the effect of, he gets a little smirk on his face and he says, 'So what are we going to do about the oil?'"
The bizarre request caused the Iraqi prime minister to ask Mr Trump “what do you mean”, the source added.
They continued: "And Trump's like, 'Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil.'"
But the request didn’t go down well with Mr Al-Abadi, who according to the source was “prepared” to hit back.
They reported him saying: “Well, you know Mr. President, we work very closely with a lot of American companies and American energy companies have interests in our country.”
The source added: ”He was smirking. And the president just kind of tapped his hand on the table as if to say 'I had to ask.'
"I remember thinking, 'Wow. He said it. He couldn't help himself.”
The account was confirmed by a second source, who was also in the room, and described it as an awkward moment, adding: "It was a look down and reach for your coffee moment.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump had raised the possibility to ask Iraq for compensations, arguing Americans spent trillions of dollars and lost hundreds of lives in the country obtaining “nothing” in return.
He said: “We’re the only ones, we go in, we spend $3 trillion, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then what happens is, we get nothing.
“You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.
“Now, there was no victor there, believe me.
“There was no victor. But I always said: take the oil.”
The idea was immediately condemned by top national security experts, who branded it outrageous and unworkable, as it would breach international law and fuel the propaganda of US' enemies.